Set among an energetic but conflicted group of HIV/AIDS activists in early-’90s France, 120 BPM documents a key turning point in LGBTQ+ history, as ACT UP’s approach of radical, direct action moved the cause further into the mainstream. But more than that, it’s a jubilant, rip-roaring ride through the music (and, yes, the sex) that charged the movement, led by stunning performances from Nahuel Pérez Biscayart, Arnaud Valois, and Adèle Haenel, all as devastating as they are ultimately galvanizing. —Liam Hess
All About My Mother (1999)
While just about any of Pedro Almódovar’s campy, oversaturated melodramas from the 1980s and 1990s could be added to this list, few had the same heart—and worldwide impact, after it picked up an Oscar for best foreign language film—as 1999’s All About My Mother. Telling the story of Manuela, a single mother whose son’s recent death sets her on a journey to reconnect with the boy’s father, now a transgender woman, the film’s sensitive, humanized portrayal of the trans community and its probing questions about motherhood and chosen families makes it one of the most dazzling jewels in Almódovar’s crown. —L.H.